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If you long to hear the pitter-patter of little feet, take a look at this statistic. According to the U.S.D.A., it now costs an average middle-income American family $222,360 to raise a child from birth to age 18. And that’s not including the cost of college! Is it worth it? Ask any parent and the resounding answer is ‘yes.’ You’ll definitely want to take a moment to map out a plan.
Kids outgrow clothing so quickly that there’s no need to drop big bucks on a closet full of designer kiddie fashions. Instead, visit thrift stores, consignment shops, garage sales or borrow from friends and family members. These are also great places to get good deals on baby gear, but do your research before buying used. There are some types of gear, like car seats, that are best bought new.
It’s incredibly tempting to buy every cute baby-related item on the market, but slow down and ask yourself what you really need. Will your baby care about a custom-made round crib with specialty bedding? Probably not. Talk to other parents and ask them what items were lifesavers and which are collecting dust in the attic or garage. If there’s something you absolutely can’t live without, do your homework and comparison shop to find the best deals.
Start planning early for big expenses down the road – like college! Consider starting a 529 College Savings Plan account when your child is born. Plan contributions and earnings grow tax-free and you can deduct the amount of your contributions from your taxable income up to a certain level depending on how you file your taxes. The funds can be transferred within families and can be used to pay the cost of tuition, fees, books and other qualified expenses. Learn more about Oklahoma’s 529 College Savings Plan at OK4Saving.org.
Children get sick; it’s a fact of life, so it’s important to be prepared. If your employer offers health insurance coverage for qualifying family members you might consider taking advantage of it. However, remember that all insurance isn’t created equal. Take your time and compare different options and different companies to make sure you’re getting the best deal on coverage and premiums.
Trying to decide who will take care of your little one while you’re at work can be a daunting task. If you’re fortunate enough to have a trusted friend or family member who can do the job for you, the decision may be a little easier. For those that must choose between daycare facilities, take into account location, price, child-to-teacher ratios and performance ratings. Get personal references and take a tour of the center. Once you find a daycare you like, get on the waiting list as soon as possible.
Ask your employer if they offer flexible spending accounts. If they do, you can contribute pre-tax dollars to this account and use it to cover child care costs. But remember, the funds in a flexible spending account must be used by the end of the year or they’re lost, so plan carefully.